WMP Lab Symposium 2019
Some of our amazing WMP lab graduate students, lab managers, and undergraduates.
WMP Lab Dinner with friends 2016
From left: John Feri, Minnie Wu, Shafee Mohammed, Chelsea Parlett, Emily Sumner, Mariela Rivas, Jacky Au, Robert Kalinowski, Jason Jones (with Jimmy), Masha Jones, Nancy Tsai, Grace Lin, Jaymes Rombaoa, Ben Gibson, Cathy Tran, Desiree Rodriguez
|Susanne M. Jaeggi, Ph.D.
Susanne Jaeggi (read: /ˈyakee/) grew up in a tiny village 5,407 ft above sea level in the mountains of Switzerland. She found her way down to Bern, where she completed her Ph.D.s in Psychology and Neuroscience. She later moved to Ann Arbor to expand her horizon as a Post-Doc at the University of Michigan, before joining the Department of Psychology and the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (NACS) at the University of Maryland as an Assistant Professor. She is now an Associate Professor at the UCI School of Education where she directs the Working Memory and Plasticity Laboratory. She also has a courtesy appointment in the Department of Cognitive Sciences, and is a Fellow at the UCI Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. As a Cognitive Neuroscientist and Experimental Psychologist, she has a broad interest in general processes of working memory and related higher cognitive functions, and within that domain, the investigation of cognitive training and transfer is one of her current major foci of research. She strives to determine what training regimens and training conditions result in the best transfer effects, investigate the underlying neural and cognitive mechanisms, and finally, investigate for what populations and individuals cognitive training is most effective.
|Karen Arcos, B.A.
Karen Arcos is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in Cognitive Neuroscience. She is also a member of the Grossman Visual Perception and Neuroimaging Lab. Karen seeks to understand how your senses-or lacking them-impact memory abilities in adults who are sighted and legally blind. Specifically, she researches the roles of vision, hearing, and touch in one’s ability to recall and update items. She looks forward to improving teaching to increase employment rates among the blind. Her team’s findings may also aid in developing useful educational products. These applications are important to Karen due to her constantly self advocating for educational equity as a result of being totally blind. When not conducting research, Karen enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as baking desserts and hiking.
|Jacky Au, Ph.D.
Jacky Au was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and received his PhD from the Cognitive Sciences Department. His interests surround the nature and enhancement of brain plasticity, including the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and computerized training of targeted cognitive processes such as working memory. His current focus combines his two interests by evaluating the enhancement of cognitive training benefits using tDCS.
Link to Jacky’s personal webpage
|Melissa Dahlin, M.A.
Melissa Dahlin is a doctoral student in the School of Education, specializing in Human Development in Context and Education Policy and Social Context. She received a BA in History from UC Irvine and an MA in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her professional experiences in teaching, policy, and research have informed her enthusiasm for all things early childhood. Melissa’s main research interests are how home numeracy environments shape children’s math trajectories, the connection between early learning programs and families, and early education workforce development.
|Robert Kalinowski, B.A.
Robert Kalinowski is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and typically speaks in the first person. My primary goal is to create children’s media of the type and scale of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” I write and perform novel songs, stories, and other interventions targeted toward nurturing the young child. I use these interventions to experimentally test the way children acquire key skills, such as early spatial and math skills, or, to look at it another way, I use the experiments to support the creation of the media interventions. I also research the development of intelligence through the early school years. My pride and joy is my small army of devoted undergraduate researcher volunteers, who enthusiastically collect data by directly assessing children in their preschools and who passionately contribute to my creative enterprise (They all get “A’s”).
|Shafee Mohammed, B.S.
Shafee Mohammed is an Optometrist by profession and did his undergraduate studies in India followed by clinical practice for a year and a half. During practice he came to understand the problems that arise in the daily lives of the visually impaired. As a doctoral student at UC Irvine’s School of Education, he intends to understand how visual stimulus aids in learning, how it contributes to working memory and how it alters in the visually impaired population. He is further interested in the potential benefits of cognitive training in improving working memory and learning of the visually impaired.
|Anja Pahor, Ph.D.
Anja has a PhD in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, with research experience from Slovenia, The Netherlands, and the UK. She is also a member of the UC Riverside Brain Game Center for Mental Fitness and Well-being. Her research interests involve understanding the mechanisms underlying higher-level cognitive functions, particularly memory and reasoning. She designs and implements working memory training studies, develops tests that are valid towards assessing potential learning effects, and analyses the data in order to understand which features of training lead to transfer effects.
|Mariela J. Rivas, M.A.
Mariela is a Ph.D. student in the UCI School of Education. She has a Master’s degree in Psychology from California State University, Los Angeles. Her work includes the application of cognitive theories of learning into instruction in higher education classrooms. A recent paper, with her Master’s advisor Ji Y. Son, was published in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology. Click here for a download link.
|Zhiling Meng Shea, M.A.
Zhiling is a Ph.D. student at the UCI School of Education, specializing in education policy in social context. She studies policies and programs that promote cognitive abilities and social skills to increase children’s success in school and in life. Zhiling received her Master’s in Public Policy from the Heller School of Brandeis University.
|Emily Sumner, B.A.
Emily Sumner is a PhD student in the Department of Cognitive Sciences interested in the development of risk-taking preferences. Her research focuses on 1) the development of the concepts underlying decision making, 2) creating methods to detect individual differences in risk propensity, and 3) the role that executive function plays into these individual difference. She is excited by the potential of creating cognitive training that will address these differences, and reduce risky behavior in special populations. She is also a member of the Sarnecka Cognitive Development Lab.
|Sirui Wan, M.S.
Sirui is a Ph.D. student at the UCI School of Education. His research interests focus on studying talent, expertise, and achievement from human development and individual differences perspectives. He identifies himself as a researcher in developmental and educational psychology. Sirui works with Dr. Susanne Jaeggi on research projects about successful aging.
|Alexandria Weaver, B.A.
Alexandria Weaver is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in the School of Education with a specialization in Human Development in Context (HDiC).
|Jenny Woo, M.A.
Jenny Woo is a Ph.D. student in UC Irvine’s Education program specializing in social and emotional development. She studies learning environments and experiences that foster executive function and social-emotional skills to increase children’s success in school and in life. Jenny received her Master’s in Mind, Brain, and Education from Harvard University and MBA from UC Berkeley. She has worked in a myriad of human development roles as a human capital consultant, an executive coach in Fortune 500 companies, a Montessori school administrator, and a certified fitness trainer. Passionate about bridging research and practice, she developed 52 Essential Conversations, a social-emotional learning tool used by teachers, parents, and psychologists in 20+ countries.
See also her website: http://mindbrainparenting.org
|Renata Callipo Fujii, M.A.
Renata is a PhD student at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN/RN) in Natal, Brazil. She is investigating how to strengthen executive functions of children living in extreme poverty in Natal using targeted classroom-based computerized interventions. Renata is currently a visiting graduate student at Yale University.
|Lara Barakat, B.A.
Lara received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California, Irvine. She is interested in further understanding the manifestation of neuropsychological disorders, specifically those pertaining to children. Lara plans on applying to doctoral programs in Neuropsychology with the hopes of broadening her horizons in the field of brain disorders.
|Eunice Ghil, B.A.
Eunice Ghil received her B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She is interested in studying individual differences in working memory and executive functioning, and plans to apply to graduate school in the future. In her free time, Eunice enjoys listening to podcasts, going on hikes, and reading crime novels.
|Shireen Khan, B.S.
Shireen received her Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences at UC Irvine. She is interested in understanding the pathophysiology of neurodevelopment disorders, such as ADHD. Shireen plans on applying to medical school, with the long-term goal of becoming a developmental-behavioral pediatrician.
|Austin Moon, B.S./B.A.
Austin Moon received his Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience and Bachelor of Arts in Education with a minor in Psychology and Social Behavior at UC Irvine. His research interest is looking at intervention methods that improve cognition for people with early-onset epilepsy. He plans on applying for a PhD program and focus on how epilepsy can deviate normal brain development. Outside of lab, Austin loves going on long hikes, gets involved in environmental programs, and enjoys superhero movies.
|Rachel Smith, B.S.
Rachel received her B.S. in Cognitive Sciences from the University of California, Irvine. She is interested in understanding how the awareness of one’s memory changes throughout the lifespan. She plans applying for a PhD program in the future. Outside of the lab, Rachel enjoys watching crime shows, reading and travelling.
|Martin Buschkuehl, Ph.D.
Martin Buschkuehl’s main interest lies in cognitive training, especially working memory training where he looks at performance transfers of trained tasks to untrained ones. Besides behavioral investigations he also looks into the neural aspects of such transfers as investigated by means of fMRI. He is interested in investigating the theoretical foundations of transfer but also in applied aspects of working memory training. In his work he not only focuses on healthy young adults, but also on old adults, typically developing children, and children diagnosed with ADHD. He is the Director for Education Research at the MIND Research Institute.
|Current (Undergraduate) Research Assistants (Fall 2018-):
|Kimia Akhavein, B.A.
(Former) Lab Manager
Kimia completed the Psychological Sciences Post Baccalaureate program at the University of California, Irvine in Spring 2018. Prior to this, she graduated from UC Irvine in 2016 with a degree in Psychology with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is interested in how different social and cognitive factors impact children’s development. In her free time, she enjoys reading and spending time with her roommates.
Kimia will be attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an incoming graduate student in the department of developmental psychology in Fall 2019.
|Kreshnik Begolli, Ph.D.
(Former) Graduate Student
Kreshnik Begolli’s research arena alternates between the laboratory and the classroom in attempts to develop research in understanding how humans learn and impart knowledge. His studies draw from cognitive research in analogical reasoning, working memory, metacognition, perceptual learning, and language development. He is motivated by a curious mind and a desire to advance science and education. Kreshnik investigates individual differences in working memory when learning from analogy-based lessons that foster students’ conceptual thinking as well as – mathematical reasoning and generalizations.
Keko is now Dr. Begolli and a Lecturer at Cal State Long Beach.
|Elena Carbone, M.A.
Visiting Graduate Student, 2017
Elena Carbone is a P.h.D. student in University of Padova’s Psychological Sciences course. She has a Master’s degree in Neuroscience and Neuropsychological Rehabilitation and a II-Level Short Specialization degree in Psychology of Aging, both from the University of Padova, Italy.
As a doctoral student, she is interested in: i) assessing the role of age and individual differences in both cognitive abilities (e.g. spatial abilities, working memory) and individuals’ attitude toward spatial tasks in explaining spatial navigation and route learning performance; ii) understanding whether it is possible to compensate, limit and slow down older adults’ cognitive age-related decline in spatial navigation and route learning abilities – particularly relevant for older adults’ purpose of living independently by moving around efficiently and reaching places – thanks to effective cognitive training.
|Masha Jones, Ph.D.
(Former) Graduate Student
Masha Jones, Ph.D. is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow who studies the executive functions of children with learning and attention disorders. Her approaches include striving to enhance executive functioning through cognitive training and attempting to better understand how differences in cognitive ability may be leveraged in support of creativity for individuals with learning and attention disorders.
|Aurora LePort, Ph.D.
(Former) Post-doc & collaborator
Aurora LePort was an Assistant Project Scientist at UC Irvine’s School of Education and Head of Research at grandPad Inc. Understanding what drives learning, memory and healthy aging has long since fascinated her. As a Ph.D. student, in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at UC Irvine, she became a pioneer in the field of Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. Dr. LePort has shown how the brain and behavior, of a rare human population, may be contributing to exceptional autobiographical memory. Aurora was a Fellow with Data Incubator and she is now a Data Scientist at Verizon Wireless in Irvine.
Link to Aurora’s website.
|Grace Lin, Ph.D.
(Former) Postdoctoral Fellow
Grace Lin received her PhD at UC Irvine’s School of Education, specializing in both Learning, Cognition, and Development (LCD) and Language, Literacy, and Technology (LLT). Her interests center around the reciprocal relationships between cognition and language, specifically bilingual language development and how being bilingual affects one’s cognition (e.g., math learning). She is driven by the potential application of cognitive research findings to educational settings.
|María Jesús Maraver
Visiting Graduate Student, 2015
María Jesús Maraver is a PhD student from the Psychology Doctorate Program at the University of Granada (Spain) and a member of the Memory and Language Research Group. She was a visiting specialist at the UCI funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy. Her work is based on the hypothesis that interference control in memory and language is solved by means of inhibitory control mechanisms that suppress competing information. She aims to study whether cognitive training interventions may enhance inhibitory control mechanisms involved in working memory and reading comprehension processes.
|Snigdha Kamarsu, B.S.
(Former) Lab Manager
Snigdha Kamarsu has a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience with a minor in Biology from UC Irvine. She enjoys learning about new cognitive measures and is interested in the neural pathways of memory. Snigdha plans to apply her knowledge from cognitive science to validate and implement new diagnostic assessments as a future neuropsychologist. When not at work in the lab, Snigdha enjoys reading, exploring new places, and learning new recipes.
Snigdha is now a project coordinator (Staff Research Associate 2) at University of California, San Diego’s Department of Psychiatry working to better understand how self awareness of a patient’s symptoms can affect their performance with tasks of independent living. This will aid Snigdha to becoming a robust clinician and a neuropsychologist in the near future.
Nina Ozbardakci, B.A.
(Former) Lab Manager
Nina Ozbardakci received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of California, Irvine. Her research interests include child and adolescent development and psychopathology. In particular, she aims to focus on the study of cognitive functioning in young adults. Outside of lab, Nina enjoys baking sweets, reading memoirs, and experiencing live music.
Nina is now a part of the Survey Research Group at the RAND Corporation, where she works on various national projects to address public policy issues impacting populations across the lifespan.
|Chelsea Parlett, B.S.
(Former) Lab Manager
Chelsea earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the UC San Diego with concentrations in Clinical and Behavioral Psychology. She loves statistics and education and will talk to you about linear models and ANOVAs any day. Her interests include exploring how to help people learn statistics more effectively and computational methods for behavioral sciences.
Chelsea is now a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, and she studies these (and more!) topics at Chapman University while completing her PhD in Computational and Data Science. If you think stats is fun (or think you should think that) check out her blog or Youtube channel! In her free time, Chelsea enjoys reading, writing, yoga, and hiking.
|Francesca Trane, B.A.
Francesca received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minor in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is interested in studying the brain and environmental influences underlying children’s persistence, motivation, and self-regulation. Francesca plans on applying to doctoral programs in clinical psychology, with the long-term goal of becoming a pediatric neuropsychologist.
Francesca will begin graduate school at CU Boulder to earn her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in Fall 2019.
|Domenic Tullo, M.A.
Visiting Graduate Student Summer 2019
Domenico Tullo is a PhD Candidate at McGill University in Montreal, Canada in the Perceptual Neuroscience Laboratory for Autism and Development, with lab director Dr. Armando Bertone. Domenico received his Master’s Degree in Educational and Counselling Psychology specializing in Human Development Psychology at McGill University in 2015.
Domenico’s research interests are twofold: (i) to characterize the development of attention resource capacity and (ii) to design effective attention-training programs for typically as well as atypically developing children, adolescents, and adults. Domenico is conducting laboratory-based experiments mapping attention resource capacities across both typically and atypically developing populations using a visuo-attentive, three-dimensional multiple object-tracking (3D-MOT) paradigm. Furthermore, he is exploring the cognitive weight feedback, as well as other learning-related factors require in attention. Based on these laboratory-based finding, Domenico has designed and implemented school-based, randomized controlled trial studies designed to train attention for children, adolescents, and adults.
|Teya Rutherford, Ph.D.
Teya is now an Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University.
Link to Teya’s personal website
|Nancy Tsai, Ph.D
(Former) Graduate Student
Nancy Tsai received her Ph.D. at UC Irvine’s Education program with a specialization in Learning, Cognition, and Development (LCD). She hopes to apply her studies of Cognitive Neuroscience to inform the development and evaluation of interventions aimed to promote learning. As a doctoral student, Nancy examined the development of Executive Functions, the factors that foster or impair this development, and the programs aimed to improve it.
Nancy is now a post-doc working in the in the Neuroscience Research Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – congrats and good luck!
|Minnie Wu, B.S.
(Former) Project Coordinator
Minnie Wu has a Bachelor of Science in Biology with minors in Psychology and Education from her hometown’s own UC Irvine. She is interested in neuropsychology and enjoys educational game design from many perspectives, including how to motivate people to learn and what goes into building games that are both helpful and fun. When not in the lab, Minnie enjoys writing fantasy, reading theology, and playing video games.
Minnie is now a PhD student at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science at UCI.
|Current Collaborators at Other Institutions
|Undergraduate Alumni – keep us updated!
WMP Lab 2015
From left: Robert Kalinowski, Snigdha Kamarsu, Nancy Tsai, Jacky Au, Shafee Mohammed, Martin Buschkuehl, Susanne Jaeggi, Chelsea Parlett, Grace Lin, Chus Maraver, Masha Jones, Minnie Wu (& Jimmy).
University of California, Irvine
School of Education
Irvine, CA 92697-5500